Seriously, Toronto, what the heck is wrong with you? Are you that self-centered? Are you that narcissistic? You put a 9-8 team in front of the firing squad, they dodged the bullets, and you still make mountains out of molehills. The salute to the fans happens 41 nights a year. Does it really matter if a team decides to skip it for one night?
Look, I get the importance of having the players recognize the fans. Without the fans, there would be no million-dollar contracts. There would be no superstars with buckets of money made from merchandise sales. There would be no Rogers Sportsnet or TSN or CBC to fight over television rights.
For the last few hundred hockey games played at the ACC, the Leafs have stood at center ice with sticks raised high in honour of those who have filled the uber-expensive seats at the ACC. It's a way of saying thank you to all those who filled the seats for their support. Again, it's an important gesture for the team to make regardless of win, lose, or draw.
The problem is that when fans start eating their own, there's a general sense that a thank you may not be in order. People lost their minds this week, so one can understand if the Leafs' players don't feel all that appreciated. In fact, if I were a member of the Leafs, I'd pull a Maximus and challenge the crowd as well.
Because the media in Toronto threw the Leafs under an electron microscope, the smallest of indiscretions are magnified beyond proportion at this point. Phil Kessel will sneeze, and there will be an ebola warning in Toronto. It's that bad, and the only people that are to blame are the media and fans in Toronto.
Let me be clear here, Toronto: it's a hockey team, not a religion. It's a business, not a cult with defined rules of membership. The Leafs are still going to hover around .500 all season, and there will be both winning and losing streaks. People will demands trades and firings, but nothing will change unless Brendan Shanahan and Dave Nonis want it to change.
The short message? Get over it, Toronto.
Next week, there will be another concern and another reason to burn down the ACC. Russell Crowe will make a bad movie. The Leafs will lose three-straight games. The world keeps on spinning on its axis. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
In other words, Toronto, get over it.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!